Tennessee Titans Coaching Decision Should Not Be Jeff Fisher Versus Vince Young

Gerald BallCorrespondent IJanuary 3, 2011

INDIANAPOLIS - JANUARY 02: Jeff Fisher the Head Coach of the Tennessee Titans watches play during NFL game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on January 2, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

One thing that really irks me is how Jeff Fisher supporters (including his media organs Paul Kuharsky, Jim Wyatt, David Climer, David BoClair and Joe Biddle, plus a few pliant types in the national media) keep making this a "Jeff Fisher versus Vince Young" dispute. What that does other than help Jeff Fisher get another job, I have no idea. What do people expect this story line to accomplish?

It presumes that having the best record in the NFL and failing to win a single playoff game TWICE (2000, 2008) is OK.

It presumes that all of these free agency busts and failed high draft picks are OK (Now that Floyd Reese is long gone, Fisher fans can stop scapegoating the guy...if anything, the personnel moves have gotten even worse).

It presumes that all of the times Fisher has allowed malcontents like LenDale White, Albert Haynesworth and Adam Jones to marginalize his authority and make him look far more ridiculous than Vince Young ever did simply because they were "his guys" that he stuck his neck out for on draft day are OK.

It presumes that all of Jeff Fisher's failed coaching staff moves over the years (firing Earnest Byner was far from the first...remember Norm Chow anyone? This actually goes back to his firing Jerry Rhome because—gasp!—Rhome wanted to throw the ball and wanted better receivers) are OK.

It presumes that Jeff Fisher's many strategic/gameday coaching failures in big games and his regularly being outclassed and overmatched when going up against the better NFL coaches are OK.

It presumes that Jeff Fisher's failure to field a consistently good defense—largely due to his failure to adapt to the passing-oriented and spread offenses that made his 4-6 defense much less effective—for the last 10 years despite defense being his area of expertise is OK.

It presumes that the years of special teams debacles—again, despite Fisher being a former special teams player and his making special teams a point of emphasis — are OK (Yes, the special teams were good in 2008 and 2010, but outside of those have been real sore areas for years.).

It presumes that not having a consistent, reliable inside power running game since the 2000 season (after which Eddie George's fast slide began; basically, there was the Travis Henry season of 2006, Smash and Dash in 2008, and that was it) despite such being a major component to Jeff Fisher's blueprint for winning is OK.

And the Titans didn't add 2010 to that list because Jeff Fisher released LeGarrette Blount in order to give Lavelle Hawkins—the guy that he insisted would be every bit as good as DeSean Jackson, Eddie Royal, Mario Manningham, and the other WRs drafted ahead of him—another shot, just as he released Antonio Johnson a couple of years back to give Chris Henry another shot, and who knows who was released in order to carry Paul Williams all those years.

It presumes that never having a true No. 1 receiver in his 16 seasons as head coach is OK (Derrick Mason, for all his positives, is only a No. 2 because of his lack of size and deep speed. Mason never reached 10 TD catches in a season, and has fewer than a dozen career receptions of 50 yards or longer.).

It presumes that never in 16 years having a group of WRs that would receive similar playing time for most of the other NFL teams are OK.

It presumes that spending most of his coaching career with glaring deficiencies in at least one pass rusher spot and in several secondary spots are OK (a fact made even worse by Fisher's dedicating most of his major personnel moves, high draft picks and major free agent contracts, to defense).

It presumes that going his entire career without having a single QB reach 3400 yards or 25 TDs passing (mostly due to the lack of quality and depth among the WRs mentioned earlier) is OK.

It presumes that missing the playoffs five of the last seven years is OK.

It presumes that always being able to find a series of convenient scapegoats for your failures (a series of players, assistant coaches, and front office people) is OK.

It presumes as if there not being a bit of evidence that Jeff Fisher is going to change is OK (Fisher has steadfastly defended the team talent and his coaching decisions all season long, just as he always does).

Bottom line: It presumes that winning five playoff games in 16 years, with three of those wins coming in 1999 and most of them against very shaky teams (Baltimore with a backup QB, Pittsburgh with Tommy Maddox at QB, Buffalo with Rob Johnson at QB, and a very young Indianapolis team coached by Jim Mora) is good enough.

This only makes sense if your No. 1 issue is wanting Vince Young off the roster, despite the fact that the Titans' failures long preceded Vince Young and—as long as Jeff Fisher remains head coach with almost unchallenged personnel power—will continue in the future.

Or, of course, if you are Jeff Fisher or a Jeff Fisher supporter, who is able to contrive this into choosing an immature, unpopular and statistically meager QB over a head coach. If that is how the issues are framed, then the general sentiment is to back the coach, no matter who the coach is or what his record.

But if you think that you can get rid of Vince Young now and Jeff Fisher later...think again. The minute Vince Young is dumped, Jeff Fisher and their chorus will start saying "We need to start over and rebuild around a new QB. The process should take, oh, two or three years."

And two or three years down the line, the Titans will be right back to where a 10-6 record for two years out of three is OK (just as it basically has been for Jeff Fisher's tenure) or blaming THAT QB for all of Jeff Fisher's problems.

The one thing that Jeff Fisher doesn't want you to remember is that he hasn't won consistently with ANY QB. He didn't win consistently (or at all) with Chris Chandler (who went on to lead the Atlanta Falcons to the Super Bowl, and it was in the Chris Chandler era that Jerry Rhome was fired because he wanted to draft talented WRs and throw the football). He didn't win consistently with Steve McNair. He put up a losing record with Billy Volek, whom he dumped for Kerry Collins because of the insane delusion that Collins was a better player.

And of course, he has had one good season but two bad ones with Kerry Collins. Wait...that is not true (Jeff Fisher, er, has won consistently with Vince Young, who has had a winning record as a starter every single year. But let's pretend that it isn't the case for now.).

So, other than the folks still bitter over not getting Jay Cutler (and in the process ignoring Cutler's own won/loss or TD to turnover ratios), there is not a single bit of evidence that the Titans would have been better had they drafted another QB then, there is not a single bit of evidence that the Titans will be better going forward if they draft another QB now, and in fact all available evidence points to the contrary!

And yet, folks still want to make this about Vince Young versus Jeff Fisher instead of evaluating a record for Fisher that was pedestrian at best long before Young ever joined this organization!

So please stop it. The only reason why it is even a little bit relevant is because Jeff Fisher—playing the PR game as always—has had his informants "leak" that he doesn't want to come back if Vince Young is on the team, and because Bud Adams prefers Jeff Fisher back for one last shot to rebuilding with a new coach.

Fine, but let's not forget that had Vince Young not won games in 2006 and 2007, Jeff Fisher would have been fired long ago! I repeat, had Fisher and Norm Chow (who is battling to hold onto his job at UCLA!) gotten Matt Leinart in 2006, Fisher wouldn't have lasted past the bye week in 2007.

So quit buying into the propaganda angle where Fisher is using a (rather unjustifiably) unpopular QB to save his job and reputation (Fisher knows that even if he is hired as a new head coach somewhere else, he won't get a front office executive job or carte blanche control over personnel and the scouting department.).

Instead, let Fisher's record stand for itself. The only reason to do otherwise is because you are either a Jeff Fisher loyalist, or so intent on getting rid of Vince Young that you are willing to be stuck with Jeff Fisher until he gets yet another chance to prove that he can't win with yet another QB (and group of assistant coaches and group of players to go with him).

This article first appeared on Music City Miracles.